What was the trigger for the 2nd World War? When did it begin and when and where did it end? What was the course of the war like? What was the impact of World War II on Austria and Vienna? How much was the city damaged?
An attempt at a brief summary might look like this:
With the surprise attack on Poland on September 1, 1939 began the World War II. Hitler, as the leader of the German Reich, wanted to conquer Eastern Europe. After initial successes, the war turned in 1943/43. Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union joined together in a coalition. The German Wehrmacht was forced to surrender in 1945, and the 2nd World War ended.
World War II was officially over on May 8, 1945.
Hitler’s lightning raid on Poland on September 1, 1939 is considered the trigger of the World War II. How did it come about? First, we have to go back a few years to 1933. Adolf Hitler, upon his appointment as German Chancellor in 1933, already expressed intentions about the “conquest of the East” at that time, which many did not want to believe. The situation became more and more acute and with the pogrom night of 1938 the Nazi regime showed what it was capable of.
Hitler’s statements about a war in Europe and the final annihilation of Jewry were hardly taken seriously. The attack on Poland was justified by provocations and border violations by Poland. People looked forward to the events with fear; no one wanted to experience another war so soon after World War 1. Soon, however, after the first successes of the National Socialists, it turned into a war euphoria.
France and Great Britain then declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Initially, the German Wehrmacht was successful against France. They crossed Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg. France had to capitulate and agree to the Compiege Armistice in June 1940. The German Wehrmacht received in the fall of 1940 in
the air battle over England their first defeat. The British were superior in the air.
The next destination was the Soviet Union. In June 1941, the German Wehrmacht launched “Unternehmen Barbarossa”, meaning the invasion of the Soviet Union. After initial war successes, the siege of Leningrad and the attack on Moscow began The Battle of Stalingrad in 1942/43 was the turning point of World War 2. As already in the 1.
After the Second World War, the unfavorable temperatures and soil conditions prevented the project from being completed.
After the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States also entered the war and it expanded into a Pacific War. The dropping of the atomic bombs over
the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was part of a warfare that knew no borders.
The USA; Great Britain and the Soviet Union formed an “anti-Hitler coalition”. Italy capitulated to the Allies in 1943 and ceased to be an ally of the German Reich. The Allied landing in Normandy in June 1944 marked another important step in the course of the war. The German Empire was now being pressed from all sides.
At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill met to discuss further steps and the political future of Germany. Hitler saw no way out and committed suicide in the Führerbunker in Berlin on April 30, 1945. On May 8, 1945, the German Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally.
What was Vienna like during that time?
Here, disaster seemed to take its course as early as March 1938. The Anschluss took place on March 12, 1938, when German troops invaded Austria, resulting in Austria’s incorporation into the Nazi German Reich.
At the outbreak of war in 1939, food rationing occurred in Vienna. Ration coupons were issued for food and essential daily products. This was the case until the end of the war in 1945. The first deportations of the Jewish population began in October 1939 and continued until the end of 1942.
From 1942 onwards, the armaments factories were relocated more to the Vienna area and Wiener Neustadt, as there was no air war there yet. This was to change later. From April 1944 to March 1945, 115 alarms were given over the radio. From the cuckoo calls, the population recognized that it was time to flee to the air raid shelters. About 52 major attacks followed. Flak towers were built and are still silent witnesses of this dark time. As an example, the flak tower in the Stiftskaserne provided shelter for about 15,000 people.
Vienna was particularly badly bombed on March 12, 1945. There was a lot of damage in the center of Vienna, e.g. at the State Opera, Albertina, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Burgtheater, Kunsthistorisches Museum and at the Danube Canal.
The battle for Vienna in the city area lasted from April 6 – 13, 1945. Children and women were asked to leave the city days before. Soviet troops captured Vienna from the west. They reached Gürtel, Ringstraße, Donaukanal – the bridges on the canal were blown up. On April 13, the last German soldiers withdrew. The restoration of democratic administration under Allied occupation took place. Theodor Körner became mayor of Vienna and formed the city government.
The Allied air raids claimed nearly 9,000 lives in Vienna – about 21% of Vienna’s houses were destroyed. Infrastructure also suffered, as there was damage to gas and water lines and sewers. Vienna’s markets were also hit, e.g. the Karmelitermarkt and the Floridsdorfer Markt burned down.
They were horrible war crimes that were used in WW2. Over a million people were left to starve, prisoners of war were deported to labor camps. In Poland, many extermination slangers were created. The Holocaust was the worst crime of the 20th century. Mass shootings and medical experiments occurred. The casualty figures for World War 2 range from 55 to 65 million people.
Time Travel Tip: Where in Vienna can you find traces of the See World War 2? At Time Travel itself, you can relive a simulated air raid in a bunker. Flak towers in the cityscape are also a reminder of the World War 2, e.g. in the Augarten, in the House of the Sea or in the Ahrenberg Park in the 3rd District. The House of History and the Museum of Military History are also in good hands in this respect.
hdgö – House of History Austria (hdgoe.at) Home – Museum of Military History (hgm.at)